More and more businesses in the Middle East are taking on interns, with significant numbers using them on a regular basis, according to the results of a new survey by

More than four out of five (86 per cent) respondents said their organisations “always have interns”, while 84 per cent of those who took part in the Internships in the Middle East and North Africa survey, said they find internships through websites.

One such site is, which sees at least 550 students and graduates hired through the platform annually.

Jugal Paryani, growth marketing manager at InternsME, said: “In terms of available internships, the trends reflect the general UAE job market, with roles in sales, marketing, accounting and finance, and limited roles in engineering and science. However, there still remains high demand for technical backgrounds for non-technical roles given the sophistication of certain products and services. We’ve seen a 35 per cent growth in internships and entry-level roles in the UAE,” he said.

“There have been several recent efforts by universities and the government to support more youth engagement in the workforce. We're seeing an increase in both expat and national interns with ratios reflecting UAE's demographics,” added Parygani.

Data from the survey showed that the majority (88 per cent) of respondents in the region believe that interns are “very useful” to their businesses, and that there are several benefits.

More than seven out of 10 (73 per cent) said they allowed them to identify talent for future positions. Other benefits include the ability to “quickly fill temporary and seasonal positions” and “provide extra help for small teams or departments”. That marks a significant cultural shift in the region, which has little history of encouraging internships or apprenticeships as routes into the workplace.

When it comes to recruiting interns and developing a successful internship programme, Paryani has some advice. “The success of an internship programme starts before any interns are hired — outlining objectives and expected results of the programme is key,” he said. “Whatever it may be: scouting the best rising talent, meeting high demand periods or innovating with fresh ideas, it's important to set OKRs and create processes based on achieving those results.”

He said that while there is no immediate downside in hiring interns, how beneficial they are depends on whether using them suits your business, and if you are able to dedicate resources to talent development. “Most companies can solve major talent challenges for mid-to-senior level roles by developing their interns' skills relevant to their business,” he said.

When it comes to what makes an internship more attractive, nearly two thirds of respondents (65 per cent) said that the “type of company/field of work” was the main factor, 29 per cent said that it depends on the “type of projects and job responsibilities”, and 2 per cent cited the “ability to obtain university credit”. Suhail Masri, vice president of employer solutions at, added: “Internships are a great asset for those trying to start and grow in their career and should be a priority when it comes to gaining experience and standing out in the competitive job market.”

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